Monday, December 22, 2014

♫♪ #MetalMonday - Report from HIM's Love Metal Archives Tour

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i followed HIM around the East Coast this month on their latest tour with WOUNDS and Motionless In White, and what better section of my blog to write about it in than Metal Monday?!
for those who have been living under a rock, HIM (which stood for His Infernal Majesty) is band from Finland, you could say call them an alternative or goth rock band, seeking influences from Black Sabbath, Type O Negative, doom metal, and many more which they wear on their sleeves; but the band pioneered their own genre, "Love Metal," which is also the title of their fourth studio album released in 2003.

if you have ever seen this symbol:
Image result for heartagram
you have seen HIM's logo, also used by Bam Margera after he discovered them while skateboarding in Finland. Although i believe they would've hit the American airwaves either way, there's no doubt that Bam (and later, Kat Von D) helped out with making sure to spread the band around in The States and blowing them up. I only found out about the band because i used to sneak and watch Jackass and Viva La Bam on Mtv, and i'm a die-hard fan.

That being said, i have to mention that last year HIM won the Revolver Golden God Award for having the most dedicated fans. As i write about the show and some of the people i met there, you will get what i mean.
About my own dedication, it's about passionate emotions, intense nostalgia, my adoration for those and the metal genre combined. this band has been with me through the rebellious parts of my childhood, the broody-angst of my adolescence, and now the even broodier angst of my adulthood. 

Growing up in a sheltered Christian environment, i've only discovered the realm of non-Christian music about 8 years ago now. Discovering secular music was a culture shock for me when hearing things like Slipknot's "Heretic Anthem" or Iron Maiden's classic"Number of The Beast" kind of freaked me out a little, because, ya know...church and stuff. Because of the Biblical references HIM made in their music, it made it much easier for me to get a hold of. And since i was a broody kid, thier music always made me think. Taking in things like just the number 666 and comparing it to love, combining a pentagram with a heart to create a symbol actually made me grow inside and think more for myself about life, my religion and ultimately become more open-minded. without HIM, i may not be the "me" i am today.

Apart from those things, there is also a little guilt tripping. In 2009, i got the chance to see Type O Negative and a friend i met there that supposedly dated Peter Steele in the Carnivore days invited me to come back stage with her and her friend, but i was 16 and my mom picked me up early. i was crushed. Months later, i find out HIM is coming to my city and freaked. I wanted to go SO BADLY but my dad said he was coming to town to see my lighting in a play at church the night of the concert. i really wanted to see him, so i decided not to have someone cover the lights for me that night. Well, my dad didn't show, and i missed the HIM concert. about 2 weeks later, Peter Steele dies, then HIM is incognito for about a year, and i felt like it was all my fault. When Gas got better and HIM came back to the USA, they didn't come anywhere near where i live, so i didn't try to attend...and Ville gets sick and they cut the tour short. I have a guilty conscience and blamed myself entirely. After that, i vowed not to miss another tour, because if i did Ville Valo might die and it would be my fault.

since that vow, i have now seen them 7 times: 2 times at Rock Allegience 2013, twice this March with Anathema and 3 shows on Love Metal Archives, and i've got to say this was the best one yet.

The first day of the tour, i met up with a fellow HIM fan from Cincinnati named John. He was originally going to attend one gig, but i told him how much he'd be able to save by bussing instead of flying and could afford 3, so we were on all the same routes. John is a collector of both official and handmade HIM Merchandise, and has almost 2000 (yes, that is three zeros) heartagrams in his house. He's pretty well known within the fans on Facebook and is always giving out gifts to other "HIMsters" around the globe, collecting HIM inspired pieces from artists and crafters. He documented a lot of the trip for his documentary about HIM fans that i believe is still in editing. One thing we definately have in common is our passion for the band and how inspired we are by our fellow fans.

The New York show was hard to top. One funny thing is that at a bus stop in Philly on the way there, i spotted a girl that looked an awful lot (almost spot on) like Sandra Mittica, Ville Valo's current girlfriend. Her mom was with her and had a shirt that looked like the Kottonmouth Kings logo, so John asked her about it, she said it was actually a wrestling shirt. While in line for the concert in New York, there they were, in line for the show! Turns out her name is Holly. Small world!

First there was a little bit of drama, a guy and his friend had been waiting since 9am and wanted to make sure his spot was claimed which is totally understandable. there were only him and 3 extremely nice girls waiting when i arrived. Until the guy started getting pushy with them and saying he was bringing about 10 other people with him to go before them, that's when it got a little crazy. there were people saying things that could be misconstrued, and the girls were not taking it lightly. no "punches or kisses" were thrown, so to speak, but everyone who was there was front row, as planned, so i feel like it all worked out.

A girl that was behind me, who got thankfully got pushed beside me was a lovely girl named Ariadna. If you think me coming from Ohio was a long way, check this out...she and her friend came all the way from Puerto Rico! There was also a pink-haired Puerto Rican girl on the other side of me, so there was 3 of us in a row. it was awesome! it turned out Ariadna missed the show in San Juan because she was sick and didn't want to miss another, and she flew all the way there with her friend and she got him into HIM. it was nuts!

The first band up was WOUNDS, a punk band from Ireland, they only have one American member (Steve) but i think it's safe to say that his violent playing style and great reception from the ladies makes up for him not being Irish. The frontman and guitar player, Aidan and James are brothers. James is younger, only a whopping 23 years old (about a year and a half older than me) but i'm not sure by how much. Then their drummer, Craig, is the one i probably talked to the most. It turns out they're all extremely nice dudes, when they tour again in February i'll be finding a way to be there. 
I fell in love with their sound, it was really remeniscent of the music i forgot i loved as a teenager. Every song they play will get stuck in your head, which is great when you're seeing them more than once. Aidan's stage presence reminds me of Iggy Pop and a little of Jim Morrison in a way, and the guy's definately got a voice on him! One thing i love about this band is that i can always hear the bass. i'm so used to listening to bands where the bass is just an amplifier for the drums or guitar, but i could always hear it. James is a talented guitarist for sure, and Craig is a great drummer (despite him saying he sucks, he actually doesnt!) and the fact that they are all screaming into a mic at some point just gives bonus points in my eyes. if you'd like to know more about how i feel about this band, read my last post "WOUNDS: Love at First Listen."

The second band to play was Motionless In White. Prior to this gig, i kind of hated them, or at least their frontman, for a blog post he made last year dissing a lot of his fans, mainly the ones who say "You saved my life." Because of personal reasons and the overall tone of the post, i couldn't feel anything but rage when i read it. Although he made some valid points that i couldn't see at the time, and he said it was about the fans that say it because they think that bands want to hear it and not because they mean it, it still felt kind of felt like if Jesus told you to "Fuck off." Which brings me to say i thought it was extremely ironic they were on the line up for a tour with HIM, the band that changed and helped save my life and many people i know feel the same. Besides that, i knew them to be a metalcore band, and i usually stray from that genre because it sounds better live than recorded. I wasn't going to let my anger towards this guy i don't know stop me from having fun, and he said it not the whole band, so i tried to let down my bias and watched them play.

They're a pretty tight band. They're sound is a pretty consistant mix of industrial, metalcore and even a little nu-metal sound here and there. Usually when metalcore and any kind of electronic music mix, i hate it, but they're an example of the combination done right. While on the topic, there was a part in their song "Contemptress" that was really cool where their guitar player (i believe his name is Ricky) plays this riff during the bridge, and whatever effect he is using made it sound like a synthesizer. I didn't realize it was him until i started watching him (i have this wierd habit of studying all of the band members separately during a show,) Their definately aesthetically striking, all of them decked out in black clothing, black make up, black hair, and even thier bodies painted black. Their bassist, Devin Sola or "Ghost" arrives on stage first with a candel lit, kind of looking like Edward Scissorhands in drag, and blows it out, then the band appears. Chris is a really charismatic preformer and commands your attention on stage, the fact that he's extremely tall probably helps. He's preformance style is a little vulgar, exclaiming at one point that he wanted to fuck every person in the venue, later adding that he only meant that to everyone who was of legal age in the audience, and gives a second-long handjob to the mic stand during thier song "Dead As Fuck." but Ville Valo is notorius for preforming fellacio on his microphones, so i guess i can't say anything about that, haha. Their sound is almost like a Marilyn Manson rebirth with a modern twist, which later i found out through a magazine i was given in line at House of Blues, they actually work with the same producer. There was a girl i met earlier that day in line, Starla, she was the only early riser that came for Motionless in White (although she did want to see HIM too) she left for coffee for a little and ran into the band while she was out, its not often you see someone that happy. She immediately called her mom (a fellow MIW fan) to tell her, we met her later when she arrived. During the preformance, i saw Chris hold someone's hand, so i found her after the show and asked if it was her, and she said it was, I was so happy for her!

In New York @ Webster Hall, i finally heard the song i was most dying to hear live, "Razorblade Kiss" possibly my #1 favorite HIM song. My other favorites (with the exception of "Death is in Love With Us") are on the usual setlist, and the most nostalgic for me "For You," i heard live in March. My HIM live bucket list is nearly complete! They also played The Sacrament, Fortress of Tears, and Love's Requiem this tour, which blew my mind. There was a surprising amount of crowd-surfing, which i've never seen at a HIM show, and at one point a girls foot was caught on a wire and knocked down an amp and a light. Ville was like (O__o) but it was surely interesting and really pretty cool. the whole show from beginning to end was stellar, but what really got me was the encore.

Since i was 15, i've been watching this video from Provinssirock 2000 i believe of their preformance of "Rebel Yell" by Billy Idol, which is my second favorite cover they've done. My #1 is their cover of Backstreet Boys' "Larger Than Life." I always watched that Rebel Yell video and went into my own world, wishing i wasn't a 1st grader when they preformed that song, knowing i'd never hear it.

Whether it was planned or not, this was the real coincidence. usual for the encore, we always scream "HIM! HIM! HIM!" or "One More Song!" but that night, we all just so happened to be yelling the word "More" and not until later did i realize it was right after midnight...when they came back out and Linde ripped into that opening riff, i almost cried! It was like a dream come true for a young fan like me, like finding out Santa was real or something (and i don't even believe in that fat old dude) i just danced and sang my heart out. and for the grande finale, in lew of the old punkiness that HIM had back in those days, Linde threw his guitar into the audience!!! I don't think i've ever been more shocked. Last i heard, people fought over it and they put it back on stage after so no one actually got it...but something had to have happened to it, because the guitar he used in Boston the next day looked shiny and brand-spanking new!

Hopped on the bus to Boston at 4am and was at House of Blues by 9. John and I were on the same route and were the first 2 at the venue. we were greeted by McFuck and he gave us coffee off of HIM's tour bus.
and because i'm me, i of course kept the cup. it's broken now, but still.

In a couple hours we were joined by a fan all the way Florida and her local friend, as well as another local named Jamie who happened to be in a metal band. it was cool to meet another vocalist doing what i want to do, and she also does some tech work like i used to and the conversations never ended. Turns out she'd never heard my favorite HIM cover so i played it for her, and her friend when she arrived. the part about the line that made this different than the NYC show is that it was split 50/50 between HIM fans and MIW fans (and i was only one of two wearing a Wounds shirt.)

I was nervous to meet MIW fans because the majority of their online presence that i've encountered over the years have been arrogant, teenage fangirls or metalcore-elitist scene kids that automatically don't like you if you don't like what they do, but it turns out the fans that leave their keyboards are extremely friendly, beautiful people that i already miss. the first i met was in NYC, a girl named Starla and her mom Toni. The next ones i met in Boston, Taylor and her mom Debbie, were just as sweet...plot twist, THEY KNEW EACHOTHER! There was apparently a contest where you find a Motionless In White coffin in a store, Starla and Toni found it and Debbie and Taylor spoke up for them because they were shy. I also met another mother-daughter duo, a girl named Lila and her mom. Turns out they were actually at the show in New York like i was, but they got there late and we didn't run into each other. CRAZY! again with the small world! 

Since the crowd was split 50/50, HIM's vibe was a little different, but still a fabulous show. i had to be on the bus at 1am, Debbie was nice enough to give me a lift to the bus station. I spent a day in a hotel before the show in Maryland and missed the one in New Jersey. Of course the one show i miss, famous New Yorker, Type O Negative & A Pale Horse Named Death drummer THE one and only Johnny Kelly attends the gig, which i saw when Gas Lipstick posted it on facebook.

It was 9am when i arrived at The Fillmore in Silver Spring, Maryland the next day, and i was preceded by a small group of people that all knew eachother. A couple (Sam and Joe) had arrived from Pennsylvania the night before and had been at the venue since 4:30 AM!! Crazy! Thier friends, Kristin and Twyxelle (or Brittany) were also there. Some of the friendliest and coolest people i've met. I threw in some money and they ordered some pizza for us all to share during our long wait. We all exchanged HIM stories and talked about all kinds of randomness. Sam's was my favorite. Her and her husband met through Brandon Novak and she's friends with Bam. When she was younger, she went to a party at Bam's "castle" which is where she first met Ville Valo before she ever was a HIM fan. she said he was sitting in a corner and she was drunk and walked up to him and said "What the fuck's your deal?!" and Ville replied "I'm shy..." LOL. You'll hear about the whole thing in John's documentary "For HIMsters, By HIMsters."

 We were later joined by Shelly, Lino, Miguel (who i recognized from a HIM show all the way down in Atlanta) and Maggie (or alternative model Izra Indica) who i also saw in ATL back in March. Turns out all 4 of them were actually there!

There were so many amazing fans, so many people i'll never forget that i've met at these concerts. I want all my friends down south to meet my friends i've met up north now, they'd all love eachother so much, i already know. We need a commune for HIM fans haha!

I was completely pumped for the whole show, and since it was the last one i was even wilder and made the best of the whole show. I sang and danced to every song by every band, especially HIM. I left that night having a song dedicated to me by Motionless In White, hanging out with Wounds for about 2 hours, and having my 7th HIM show under my belt. Everyone i loved was front row, the girls next to me were just as into it as i was, it was amazing. there's no word for it BUT amazing. I also met some more fans i know from Instagram! HIM shows are like family reunions, the kind that i wish my real ones were like :)
 
thank you for reading about the best time of my life!
i promise not to stray to far from my blog again, i'm sorry for the hiatus!